With unsavory developments involving cable service technicians continuing to make headlines, one operator is taking further steps toward building a better public image for those workers.
Bright House Networks Indianapolis has partnered with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department on “Operation Bright Eyes,” a watch program that trains technicians to be extra sets of eyes in the neighborhoods where they operate.
“We just launched it here in Indianapolis and we're getting ready to launch it in some other areas,” said Bright House director of public affairs Al Aldridge, naming Hendricks County, Carmel and Marion, Ind., as communities that would soon feature the program. “We want to try to get our entire division up to speed on this.”
Indianapolis police are providing free training, which includes teaching technicians what to look for and how to react in situations such as fires, assault, burglary and missing children. At press time, 130 out of 175 Bright House technicians have been trained for the roughly 120,000-subscriber Indianapolis division, according to Aldridge. All technicians servicing Carmel should be trained by the end of March.
“Community policing is the best tool we have for preventing crime in our city,” said Indianapolis Metropolitan police chief Michael Spears. “[Operation Bright Eyes] is an excellent example of how a corporate partner can step in to make community policing a success.”
Participation in the neighborhood-watch initiative is mandatory and all technicians must undergo a refresher course once a year. Bright House service trucks will be labeled with a Bright Eyes bumpersticker.
“We wanted the neighbors to know that when you see the Bright Eyes on the back of our trucks, that's a mobile neighborhood watch and that's somebody who can get you some help,” said Aldridge, who admitted the initiative wouldn't hurt service technicians' public image.
Bright House Networks first launched Operation Bright Eyes in 2005 in Tampa, Fla., after a service technician — who had also been a fireman — responded to smoke emanating from a home next door to one of his installation jobs. Aldridge said the technician ended up rescuing a disabled resident from the third floor and the program sprang from there. Service technicians have since located lost children, helped hit-and-run victims and reported house fires and attempted break-ins.
“Now we're trying to get the other utilities in [Indianapolis] to take our lead and keep rolling with it,” Aldridge said, including power companies. “They carry all the information on who to contact in regard to which kind of situation it is. … But one thing we are stressing: they are not law enforcement. They are just like you and me, community citizens out doing a good turn for their neighbors.”